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President visit

Malda, Jan. 10: President Pranab Mukherjee today said he would have continued to be a teacher had he not entered politics.

He was speaking at the 125th year anniversary celebrations of Siddheswari High School at Chanchal.

Hundreds of people from nearby places had gathered at the event to catch a glimpse of the President.

“A few days back, I had been to the college where I used to teach. During the visit, I was recollecting my old days. At that point, I felt that if I had not joined politics, I would have continued as a teacher till today. That would obviously have been good, as I had started my career as a teacher. It is education which forms the foundation for development and economic progress of a country,” said the President.

Around 1.30pm today, Mukherjee arrived by a chopper on the Kaligram High School grounds in Chanchal, which is close to the venue.

As he disembarked from the chopper, governor M.K. Narayanan and state tourism minister Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury welcomed him.

On reaching the stage, he was welcomed by the representatives of Siddheswari High School who handed him a memento.

From the stage, Mukherjee also inaugurated a bust of writer Sibram Chakraborty, also a resident of Chanchal. The President then spoke for around 10 minutes.

“I have visited Malda several times and the area is known to me. Back in 1977, I had contested as a Congress candidate from a Malda seat and had lost in the elections. Even then, people have invited me here,” Mukherjee said.

“When we were studying, the education system was not so elaborate and accessible. But today, India has marched ahead in the field of education. In total, 19.20 crore children are studying in schools across the country now. Under the mid-day meal scheme, arrangements have been made for 10.4 crore children,” he added.

The President, while elaborating on the education infrastructure, said: “We have 659 universities across the country and over 33,000 colleges. Around 2.56 crore children are in higher education and 35 IITs have been raised in our country. Around 60,000 children are studying in the IITs and another 70,000 are studying in 33 National Institute of Technology institutes created across India. It is essential to focus on education and research as the more strong education is in a country, its development and economic growth would increase and the country would move forward.”

After his speech, the President took the chopper around 2.30pm and left for Calcutta.